The Propeller Group (TPG) is a collective based in Ho Chi Minh City and founded in 2006 by Phunam, Matt Lucero, and Tuan Nguyen. Their multimedia works use the languages of advertising and politics to initiate conversations about power, propaganda and manipulation, especially as they relate to fallen Communist dictatorships and the rapid rise of capitalism in Vietnam and beyond.
TPG became well-known for their 2011 advertising parody Television Commercial For Communism, included in the New Museum’s Ungovernables 2012 Triennial exhibition. The work considers the contradictions and tensions between two disparate eco-political systems. For the work, TPG hired a global advertising firm to create an advertising campaign to market Communist ideology through capitalist means.
The group’s 2014 film The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, created for Prospect. 3 New Orleans Biennial, is a poetic voyage through the funeral traditions of South Vietnam and engages the striking similarity between these rituals and those from around the rest of the Global south, especially New Orleans. The film combines documentary footage of actual funeral processions along with vivid re-enactments; the film is a poetic rumination on death and the ways in which the living honor the dead.
“In many of our projects, we try to create disorder, hoping that disorder in such particular instances can become another sense of order to an audience that may be all too afraid of change or unable to accept other possible ways of engaging with current social structures. We like to play. We align ourselves with different cultural producers. We like to let ourselves get ingested into the bellies of big social beasts such as television, advertising, or the various manifestations of pop-culture.” –The Propeller Group